Guidelines for Advertising Percentage
Friday, 06 January 2006 12:45

Q: What are the guidelines for determining the advertising percentage in my newspaper that I report to the Postal Service?

A: First, “if you receive something of value or someone pays to place an ad, it is considered advertising."

You receive something of value when a columnist writes articles for your paper so it would be considered advertising when you run their ad in exchange for the article.

If an air conditioning contractor took care of the maintenance of your newspaper for an exchange of running their business ad in your paper, it would also be considered advertising.” Anything of value offered in exchange for an ad would be considered advertising. This is commonly referred to as "quid pro quo", or something for something.

Next, if you run a house ad for subscriptions to your paper giving various options (prices, time, etc.), this would not be considered advertising.

The subscription ad must state only subscription information the subscriber would need to subscribe.

If the subscription ad mentioned advertising rates, phone numbers for contacting other services of the publication, it would be considered advertising.


The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) part E211.110, states:

Advertising is restricted or prohibited by E212 for the categories of Periodicals authorization. For these standards, the term advertising includes:

a. All material for the publication of which a valuable consideration is paid, accepted, or promised, that calls attention to something to get people to buy it, sell it, seek it, or support it.

b. Reading matters or other material for the publication of which an advertising rate is charged.

c. Articles, items, and notices in the form of reading matter inserted by custom or understanding that textual matter is to be inserted for the advertiser or the advertiser's products in the publication in which a display advertisement appears.

d. A newspaper's or periodical's advertisement of its own services or issues, or any other business of the publisher, whether in display advertising or reading matter.

Public Service Announcement

Part E211.2 of the DMM states, “The Term public service announcement means any announcement for which no valuable consideration is received by the publisher, which does not include any matter related to the business interests of the publisher, and which promotes programs, activities, or services of federal, state, or local governments or of nonprofit organizations, or matters generally regarded as in the public interest. A public service (PSA's) is not treated as advertising.”

Advertising Standards

Part E212.1.3 of the DMM states in part; “Advertising is defined in E211. General publications primarily designed for advertising purposes do not qualify for Periodicals mailing privileges, including publications that:

a. Contain more that 75% advertising in more that half of the issues published during any 12-month period.

b. Are owned or controlled by individuals or business concerns and conducted as an auxiliary to and essentially for the advancement of any other business or calling of those who own or control the publications…”


a. Text, which is used to promote a product, called “advertorial,” must be marked and counted as advertising.

b. Strictly subscription related material and public service announcements (provided free of charge) do not count as advertising but are charged for the weight.

c. Blank sheets are not eligible for periodical rates. If you require extra sheets to balance your publications, simply put a page number on it. They are counted as neither advertising nor non-advertising. However, blank pages cannot be used to complete the 24-page rule (for requestor pubs).

d. In the new rate case, the USPS has asked that the Ride-Along becomes a permanent feature and that it increases to 12.4 cents. Once it is permanent, a questionnaire will not be required.

Generally speaking the term, “quid pro quo” if you receive something of value for the advertising, in exchange for something, It will be counted as advertising.